Pay talks resume with 3 per cent deal on the table

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
Employers shift on a no strings deal while unions look to the millennium review for a substantial rise. David Henderson reports

A hurriedly arranged Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee is meeting today to consider a no-strings 3 per cent pay deal for teachers. It will add around pound;30 million to the pound;1.1 billion pay bill if it goes through.

Talks between management and unions broke down two weeks ago after the employers refused to go beyond 2.7 per cent without a commitment to reform the promoted post structures in secondary.

But pressure to avoid a period of classroom unrest ahead of talks on the millennium review of management, pay and conditions in schools has forced a rethink. In return, the employers are likely to be given a starting date in August for talks on reforming promoted posts, a key management aim.

The Educational Institute of Scotland flatly rejected the 2.7 per cent offer which was 0.3 per cent below the award to other local government workers. Teachers will now be on a par with Scottish council staff but below the 3.8 per cent end-loaded award to teachers south of the border.

Union leaders are aware the employers are ready to offer a further substantial pay increase either later this year or next year tied to the outcome of the millennium talks. It may now not be backdated to April 1 this yearas employers originally intended.

Ronnie Smith, EIS general secretary, said earlier this month after rejecting the original offer teachers were realistic and understood the constraints on councils.

He stated: "But other council workers are now getting increases, which though falling well below their legitimate aspirations, amount to significantly more than councils are prepared to offer Scottish teachers.

"It is intolerable too that a time when Government expectations of teachers are greater than ever before and when schools are on the brink of yet more curricular change and upheaval, the gap between the pay of Scottish and English teachers seems set to widen. It is hard to see how good graduates can be attracted to the profession when employers are prepared to reward so poorly."

Mr Smith welcomed the local authorities' acceptance of a longer term review of teachers' salaries.

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